Naming your baby is no walk in the park. In looking for inspiration on popular baby name sites, you’re promised a staggering “30,000 unique names” to choose from—and trying to pick that one brilliant moniker feels almost as impossible as ignoring your relentless craving for mango bubble tea. But the pressure to select the “perfect” name is greater these days than for past generations, says Colleen Slagen, baby name consultant and founder of Naming Bebe. “Parents today are picking from a bigger pool of names than they were 30 years ago, and people have access to baby name data that didn’t come out until the nineties.”
It’s no wonder the whole exercise feels so incredibly daunting. So, to help you narrow your options, we’ve gathered all the names that you simply can’t choose. Why? Well, because the United States and other countries have banned them. Read through the list to see them all.
This list is riddled with confusing name choices, but Linda definitely came as a surprise. In Saudi Arabia, it joins Alice, Lauren, Sandy, Elaine, and Maya on a banned list of monikers deemed contradictory to the local culture or religion, inappropriate, or too foreign.
2. King, Queen, and Majesty
These names have been banned in certain states since they reflect titles instead of actual monikers. Following suit, countries like Australia have said no to Lieutenant, President, and Emperor. So, even though your little one might be the king or queen of your heart, it’s probably safer to use this as one of the 10,000 loving nicknames you’ll pick out.
This Satanic name had legs for a while in Japan, despite meaning “devil”—so much so that the Prime Minister’s cabinet pushed back on a ruling to prevent parents from using it in 1994. But just a few months later, officials banned the name, calling it “an abuse of the right of parents to name a child” and forcing the couple to choose something else.
4. 1069 or .
Though the thought may not have crossed your mind, if you live in some states you’re banned from calling your kid symbols or numbers. In the ’70’s, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a schoolteacher couldn’t change his name to 1069 because, you guessed it, names can’t be numbers. Or how about the couple in New Zealand who wanted to use the “.” symbol to name their child “Full Stop.” That’s when the New Zealand government put a full stop to their naming plans.
Speaking of symbols, China has no time for any of them, including @. Despite the local pronunciation “ai-ta,” which sounds like the phrase “love him” (kind of sweet, no?), the government put the kibosh on a couple’s attempts to use the symbol.
6. Adolf Hitler
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Adolf was actually a common boy name that reportedly hit peak trendiness in 1851. As you can imagine, this first name plummeted in popularity due to its association with genocidal Nazi dictator Adolf Hilter. And while the full name has been banned in Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, and New Zealand, a New Jersey couple actually used it in the early 2000s, garnering lots of negative attention when a grocery store baker refused to write Adolf Hitler on their son’s birthday cake.
A French couple wanted to name their baby after the beloved chocolate hazelnut spread, but the French court stepped in and stopped this idea from spreading any further. According to the BBC, the judge said, “…it is contrary to the child’s interest to have a name that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.”
8. Harriet and Duncan
In the United States, Harriet ranks as the 626th most popular name, while Duncan was deemed the 1015th most popular pick for boys in 2021. However, Iceland’s Naming Committee won’t be approving these monikers for local babies anytime soon because they don’t appear on Iceland’s list of 3,565 approved names. According to the Rekjavik Grapevine, names must have letters that appear in Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet—the “c” in Duncan doesn’t. Also, names need to end in the nominative, accusative, genitive, and/or dative cases, and Harriet doesn’t fall into this category.
9. Fish and Chips
Yes, babies are so cute you could just eat them up—but that doesn’t mean you can call them any food you want. After a couple in New Zealand tried to name their twins Fish and Chips, the request was denied and the names were added to a list of banned monikers.
10. Chow Tow
A wave of Malaysian adults filing to change their names led to the creation of a list of banned monikers, including Chow Tow, which means “smelly head” in Cantonese. Spit up may not smell great but no baby deserves to have it brought to their attention all day every day. Also on the list: Sor Chi, which means insane, and Woti, which translates to sex.
11. Santa Claus
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout… when I tell you that this name has been banned in Ohio. As the story goes, a Santa Claus impersonator wanted to legally change his name to Santa Claus, but the court denied him because they believed using the name all year round would be misleading to kids. However, if you desperately need to know where you can spot Santa Claus walking down 5th Avenue, this request was actually granted to a man in New York.
In Sonora, the Mexican state that banned Facebook, RoboCop, and Lady Di, another name that didn’t make the cut for future parents is Circuncisión, which translates to “circumcision” in Spanish. Yikes.
Agreeing on a baby name can be as tough on a relationship as building an IKEA cabinet, but what if you want to name your baby after the Swedish furniture store? Sorry to disappoint you, but under Swedish Naming Law (put in place to prevent names that could cause kiddos “discomfort”) this name has been banned in the Scandinavian country along with Superman, Elvis, and the ever-popular Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116.
14. Sex Fruit
Sure, this name isn’t likely to be at the top of many couples’ lists, and for New Zealanders, it’s downright illegal. While we can all agree that fruit is “sexy,” New Zealand’s strict naming laws forbid this one from becoming an official kid name.
If you thought Sex Fruit was bad, that’s just scratching the surface of New Zealand parents’ questionable baby name attempts. The undeniable standout on the country’s 2013 list of banned names was Anal.
If you’re unfamiliar, Cyanide is a deadly fast-acting poison. However, a mother in Wales thought she’d picked a killer moniker until the Welsh court let her know otherwise. The BBC reported that the Judge said the name was unacceptable and might cause her child harm.
Sorry to rain on your parade, Marvel fans, but even the power of Thor can’t get you permission to use this name in Portugal. It joins Nirvana and Paris on the country’s 82-page list of banned names.
Nope, you can’t name your kid after Popeye’s fave leafy green if you reside Down Under. The courts took a hard pass when a couple tried to call their little sprout Spinach.
19. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii
One of the wildest baby naming cases ever was this absolute mouthful, given to a young girl who was not on board and refused to tell anyone her name. After her parents split and entered a custody battle, little Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii became a ward of the court until she was given a name that didn’t lend itself to so much teasing and discomfort.
How to Pick a Name
If you’re feeling super overwhelmed and confused when it comes to narrowing down your list of baby names, know that you’re not alone. Slagen encourages parents not to overthink it, and to make sure you like how the name sounds when you say it out loud. “That’s when you realize you may love a name on paper, but you may not love it when you say it out loud.” So go ahead and give it a try and you’ll quickly be able to decide if sentences like, “Sex Fruit! Stop hitting your brother…” work for you and your family.